1 in 4 young adults received mental health care in 2021

The number of American adults seeking mental health care has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, and younger adults appear to be the ones in need, according to new federal data.


What do you need to know

  • The number of American adults seeking mental health care has increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic and, according to new federal data, young adults appear to be the most distressed.
  • According to a study published Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics, nearly one in four Americans – 23 percent – between the ages of 18 and 44 reported in a survey that they had received mental health care in the previous 12 months.
  • That number jumped from 18.5% in 2019 – in fact, in 2019, before the pandemic, young people between the ages of 18 and 44 were the least likely group of adults to seek mental health care, but last year they were the most likely, according to the survey
  • The CDC report did not suggest reasons for the increases, but there has been a lot of research linking worsening mental health to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a study published Wednesday by the National Center for Health Statistics, which is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

That number jumped from 18.5% in 2019. Indeed, in 2019, before the pandemic, young people aged 18 to 44 were the least likely group of adults to seek mental health care, but last year they were the most likely, according to the survey.

Mental health treatment is on the rise among adults overall, from 19.2% in 2019 to 21.6% in 2021. However, the differences were statistically insignificant for the other age groups: slightly higher for 45-64 years and slightly younger for age 65 and over.

The report defines mental health treatment as taking mental health medications, receiving counseling or therapy, or both.

Women between 18 and 44 were more likely to receive treatment, rising from 23.8% in 2019 to 28.6% in 2021. Men in that age group also recorded an increase: 17.8% in 2021 , compared to 13.1% two years earlier.

30% of non-Hispanic white adults between the ages of 18 and 44 say they have sought assistance, up from 23.8% in 2019. The number of non-Hispanic Asian adults in that age group who have received care, meanwhile , almost doubled, from 6% to 10.8%.

The CDC report did not suggest reasons for the increases. But there has been a lot of research linking worsening mental health to the COVID-19 pandemic, which killed more than a million Americans, left countless others infected in fear for their short- and long-term health. closed businesses and schools for a while, led to the loss of millions of jobs and forced people into isolation.

In March, the World Health Organization reported that in the first year of the pandemic, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25%.

“This is a wake-up call for all countries to pay more attention to mental health and do a better job of supporting the mental health of their populations,” said WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

A separate CDC poll released in March also found that more than a third of high school students in the United States said they experienced poor mental health during the pandemic.

And more and more discoveries come to light. For example, in the past two weeks, the Lancet Psychiatry journal has published a large study that, in the six months following COVID-19 infection, people are at increased risk for mental health and neurological conditions, including seizures, dementia. , psychotic disorders and brain fog.

Another study published in the journal Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy, researchers found that around two-thirds of the participants surveyed experienced a distorted perception of time – which was speeding up or slowing down – even six months after the the pandemic has begun. Researchers say people who have lost track of time may be at greater risk for mental health problems.

As for why young adults are seeing a sharper increase in mental health care, Calliope Holingue, a psychiatric epidemiologist, told CNN that they entered the pandemic “at a very vulnerable stage in life.” .

“It’s the stage where ailments like anxiety disorders and depression are at one of their highest levels in life,” he said. “So there is this kind of natural vulnerability there, at the same time that the pandemic is occurring.”

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